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WEF calls on leaders to take responsibility

WEF founder Klaus Schwab says the world is at a critical juncture Keystone

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has called on business and political leaders to show a “global spirit of solidarity” at its annual meeting.

During its summit in the Swiss resort of Davos, the WEF will also try to reinvent itself by focusing on the world’s new political leaders.

Speaking in Geneva on Wednesday, Forum founder Klaus Schwab said the world was at a decisive juncture.

“We find ourselves at a crucial moment for the world and its leaders,” he added. “Leaders from all sectors of society will come to Davos this year to work on ways to consolidate and build on these new beginnings to improve the state of the world.“

According to Schwab, the recipe for success is based on what he calls “pragmatic optimism, the resolve to work with the world we have, to make a world as it should be.”

The meeting is being held under the theme “Taking Responsibility for Tough Choices”.

Schwab also said that this year’s meeting would be marked by a new spirit of solidarity in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Business and politics

More than 2,250 participants will gather in Davos, including politicians, religious leaders, union representatives as well as heads of non-governmental organisations.

Around 50 per cent of the participants are business leaders drawn principally from the Forum’s members – 1,000 of what the WEF management considers to be the foremost companies from around the world.

Among the business attendees will be Bill Gates, head of Microsoft, and Daniel Vasella, CEO of the Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis. Also participating will be the presidents of the European Commission, South Africa, Poland and Ukraine.

Mideast politics are expected to be one of the main talking points in Davos with the newly-elected leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, attending.

Mahmoud Abbas

Frédéric Sicre, WEF Acting Director, Middle East, told swissinfo that Abbas was “currently confirmed to be with us on January 27th and 28th”.

Senior Israeli officials are also expected in the Swiss mountain resort after being invited by the organisers.

Reports say the idea of bringing the two sides together for high-level talks in Davos stemmed from a meeting last month between the Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, and Schwab.

Four other Swiss cabinet members besides Calmy-Rey will be in Davos: President Samuel Schmid, Economics Minister Joseph Deiss, Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin and Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz.

swissinfo with agencies

The WEF annual meeting is taking place in Davos from from January 26 to January 30.
More than 2,250 participants from 96 countries will convene in the Swiss resort.
They include 20 heads of state or government, 70 cabinet ministers, 26 religious leaders, 15 union representatives and more than 50 heads of non-governmental organizations

The biggest concerns for 60,000 people surveyed for the WEF in 60 countries are poverty and terrorism, followed by peace promotion and encouraging economic growth.

Nearly three quarters of those polled said their leaders don’t do enough to stamp out poverty and hunger, and to close the gap between rich and poor.

Western Europeans, especially the Swiss, were the most critical of their leadership.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR